"My heart is bloody and I can't take it anymore" – Ra, Do You Call My Name
#4 Privet Drive, Surrey
Harry Potter was not a boy who cried often. Fate only knows he had earned the right as the years had gone by. His parents murdered when he was just over a year old, forced to live with his abusive aunt and uncle since then, haunted by nightmares of guilt, and pursued for the past two years by the same evil wizard who had killed his parents. Under normal circumstances, most ordinary people would've shut down, merely waiting for the end to come. Harry Potter was far from ordinary however. Harry Potter was a wizard.
Not just any wizard either. Over the past six years of learning at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he had developed magical powers that would rival that of his headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who most people viewed as the most powerful wizard on the planet. While he had yet to actually finish his schooling at Hogwarts, Harry had experienced much more than a normal wizard would over the course of a lifetime. Battling three headed dogs, basilisks, escaped convicts, dragons, zombies, vampires, and Death Eaters had changed him. He still had the shy, slightly reclusive, and self-effacing personality that endeared him to his friends, but he also had an almost inhuman focus when the situation demanded it – whether it was defending his friends, chasing after the Snitch during a Quidditch match, or trying to get decent marks from his Potions instructor. However, Harry felt the tears run freely down his face as he stared at the letter in his hands.
My Dearest Harry,
My new job here in France has been wonderful. The work for the Ministry of Magical Development is challenging, but I'm learning so much here that I don't even notice.
Harry, I'm so sorry for the words I'm about to write. However, I feel I must tell you now to spare you from any excess pain. Since I have been here, I have met someone new. Alexander works in the office with me and ... well ... neither of us planned anything to happen, but it just happened.
I know you're probably quite angry with me right now and frankly, I don't blame you. You have every right to be upset right now. However, I hope that one day you will be able to put that aside and wish me happiness.
Well, if you made it this far then you truly are the monument that everyone believes you to be. I wish you the best of luck in your final year at Hogwarts. Know that I will always care for you very much Harry.
The Ministry of Magic, at about the same time
As he looked back, he had to admit that it was brilliantly done. They had dangled the perfect bait in front of him and he had gone after it without thinking. They knew exactly how to play his emotions, his desires, his dreams.
He squirmed in frustrated anger. If he could, he would've started swearing. Or if his arms were free, he would've untied himself and gone straight into hiding. Neither was an option right now.
He closed his eyes and laughed at himself.
Such an idiot I am. Blinded by my own drive for revenge and blind to the dangers that were in front of me. Now look at me - trussed up like a Christmas goose and waiting for someone to realize who I am.
The fury that possessed him was tinged with self-loathing. He had failed. He had failed not only himself, but so many others that had been depending on him. In the end, he would have to face the guilt alone.
It's a wonder no one had stumbled across me before now. As many people who walk in and out of here each day, you'd think they'd have noticed by now.
The familiar, rhythmic CLUNK interrupted his reverie. As he closed his eyes, he could only hope that it would be over quickly. He knew his fate – the feared Dementor's Kiss. That most awful punishment had been decreed for him for nearly 4 years now. Now it was just a matter of time. A detached voice in his head wondered if it hurt. A bitter part of his mind replied that he'd be finding out in an awfully big hurry.
CLUNK ... CLUNK ... CLUNK ... CLUNK ...Each step came closer. Each step brought him closer to hell.
Suddenly it stopped and he could almost feel the shock radiating off the figure. After all, what wanted criminal would be stupid enough to spend time hanging out at the Ministry of Magic?
"Well I'll be damned. What exactly do we have here?"
The voice sounded as if it was poured over gravel. There were three more rhythmic CLUNKs as the person approached. A shadow draped over him. He would've turn to look at the figure above him, but he still could not move.
"You are the absolutely last person I expected to run into this morning. Looks like someone did a damn fine job on you too. I don't think even I could make sense out of those knots you're tied up in."
He had to agree with the person standing over him. He had even tried to change into his Animagus form in an attempt to escape. He had succeeded only in severely dislocating his shoulder in the process. He wasn't even sure if they would even be able to get him out of his bindings before the Dementors gave them his last Kiss.
"You are a truly sorry looking sight indeed. The trouble for you is, you're going to look a lot worse by the time we get you back to your cell."
With that, he was rolled over and found himself staring at the scarred face of Alastor Moody. Somehow he knew that by the time everything was finished, his own face would look much, much worse than the battle scarred face of the Auror standing over him.
‘Your cell'? If only I could be so lucky, Alastor. I'll be lucky if I'm alive to see the setting sun.
That evening back at Privet Drive
"BOY!! Get your worthless hide down here ... NOW!"
Uncle Vernon's bellow broke Harry's depression. He slowly got to his feet, opened the door, and made his way downstairs. He found his Uncle sitting in his chair in the living room. His Aunt Petunia had a new collection of photographs of his cousin, Dudley, spread out in front of her, but they were forgotten as she stared at the television, transfixed by the images before her. Consuming the couch next them both with his vast bulk, his porcine cousin looked at Harry with undisguised glee in his face.
"BOY!! What is taking ... oh. So you finally decided to grace us with your presence did you? Well I've got something to show you, you unnatural freak!"
With that, he clicked the mute button on the remote control – the voice of the news anchor suddenly filling the room.
"...eating our top news story: Sirius Black, the man convicted 16 years ago of that horrible murder and who escaped from prison some four years ago, was recaptured this afternoon. Details are still sketchy at this time, but officials have confirmed that he has indeed been captured and is even now on his way back to an undisclosed prison location. The renega..."
With that, Vernon clicked the mute button on the remote control again. With a face-deforming smirk, he stood up and cast an unfriendly gaze down upon Harry.
"Well boy, I don't think we have to worry about your precious godfather," Vernon spat the word out. "coming around these parts anymore, now do we? Sad really, I was looking forward to introducing him to a new friend of mine."
Vernon's fat hand reached down beside his sitting chair and withdrew a very large and evil looking revolver. He held out the gun so that Harry could get a good look at it. Suddenly he pulled his arm back above his head and brought the butt of the gun down solidly on Harry's head. Harry fell to his knees instantly and Vernon quickly followed up with three more rapid strikes – using the gun almost in a club-like fashion. By the time he had finished, Harry was laying face-down on the carpet, with several gashes on his head leaking an amazing amount of blood.
As his Uncle leaned over him, Vernon grinned maliciously and spoke in a deathly quiet voice.
"Boy, I should've done that to you years ago. Now get upstairs and get out of my sight. You have plenty of chores to do tomorrow and they'll be done correctly. And if they're not ... ". The threat was left hanging there.
Harry staggered to his feet drunkenly, his Aunt and Cousin chuckling gleefully at the beating he had just received. As he made his way up the stairs, he could feel his heart sinking lower into his chest. First Cho, now Sirius. His hands trembled from shock and from the beating he had just received. His steps faltered as he tried to climb the stairs.
He stopped in the lavatory first to see what he could do to stem the flow of blood from the various cuts and contusions on his head. Harry opened the medicine cabinet behind the mirror and withdrew rubbing alcohol along with several bandages. He hissed in pain as the alcohol burned the first cut. As he grit his teeth against the pain, he struggled to keep his hands still as he applied the bandages. Finally he was able to cease the flow of blood, but the throbbing pain had not decreased in the slightest. Slowly, he turned towards his bedroom. Grimly he set one foot in front of the other as he tried to make it to his bed before he collapsed.
Harry fell onto his bed finally as the pain throbbed in time to his heartbeat. All thoughts of Cho had left him. There would be time to deal with that later. The only thing Harry could think about was somehow freeing his godfather. He turned the idea over in his head for a couple of hours as he struggled with a possible way to free his godfather. Everything from flying into Azkaban (he dismissed this immediately – he had no idea where Azkaban even was!) to using a Portkey (he'd undoubtedly be searched for anything even remotely magical) was a possibility. Just as sleep came to him, an idea sprang to mind. An idea that was so simple, that Harry wanted to get lessons on self-punishment from the House Elf, Dobby, for not having thought of it before:
A/N: First off, gigantic thanks go out to my beta, Ember, for keeping me from turning the Dursleys into trailer park rednecks. You rock!! :) Thanks also to the guys from Rush & Dream Theater – who's music I had turned up to rather obnoxious volumes while writing most of this. Finally, thanks (???) go out to my demonic little cat who kept trying to gnaw my fingers off while I was trying to type. Nice kitty. :-|
Harry Potter & the characters depicted therein are the property of JK Rowling. I have absolutely no claim to them whatsoever. I wish I did though, because then I'd be retired and on a beach down in St. Kitts somewhere!!